This Design Gallery Wants You to Feel Like the ‘Most Important Person in the World’

Words Sean Santiago
Photo Sean Davidson & William Jess Laird
Location STUDIOTWENTYSEVEN New York Gallery

When the Madrid-born, Miami-based creative director Nacho Polo launched his gallery StudioTwentySeven in 2018, he offered a strictly curated assortment of Scandinavian design. The mix was becoming of a stark social media feed but didn’t exactly scream “adjacent to South Beach”

StudioTwentySeven partners Nacho Polo and Robert Onuska stand before a bespoke sofa by Pierre Augustin Rose. The cocktail table is by Francesco Balzano; the wall work by Torkwase Dyson is from their private collection

Despite that—or, really, because of it—the program caught the attention of mostly New Yorkers. Polo started to expand both his offering and the company, incorporating pieces from the estate of Italian designer Angelo Mangiarotti and bringing on his partner, Robert Onuska, whose background is in retail, to help with operations. Clearly, it was time for a New York outpost

An intimate home-office setup features a pendant light by Luca Stefano, a desk by Francesco Balzano, and a chair by Anthony Guerrée

After scoping out five different vacant storefronts in TriBeCa, Polo and Onuska settled on a vast 7,000-square-foot space at 241 Church, formerly home to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Matsugen, which closed in 2011. Designed in 1901 by the same architect as the Waldorf-Astoria and the Dakota, it’s also conveniently down the block from the couple’s residence at the Herzog & de Meuron–designed “Jenga Tower.” The couple felt fate had intervened

A seven-foot bespoke chandelier by Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth presides over pieces from Polo and Onuska’s personal collection

StudioTwentySeven’s New York flagship, open by appointment only from February 15th, is the pair’s unfiltered creative vision. Not only did Polo and Onuska oversee the gallery’s design and interiors, their personal art collection punctuates the space, including works by Anastasia Bay, Alex Prager, and even a cuckoo clock by Katie Stout. Visitors are greeted by a nine-foot-tall sculpture by the Japanese ceramist Otani Workshop, who late last year partnered with Dior menswear designer Kim Jones on a capsule collection

The wood-paneled library features vintage books and a bronze chair by Luna Paiva. The cast crystal table lamp is by Ross Gardam, and the painting is by Anastasia Bay

While the style bona fides are real, the gallery is pleasantly unmoored from the hustle and bustle of the city outside. Polo took design cues from the Mediterranean, incorporating curved walls, recessed lighting that traces one edge of the gallery, and sheer floor-to-ceiling curtains that filter light with heavenly panache. “We wanted something very soft, organic, and exaggerated,” says Polo. “This feels like an extension of our home”

An exclusive playlist from the DJ and producer Mia Moretti is forthcoming, as is a proprietary scent. “We want you to walk in and feel like the most important person in the world,” adds Onuska

A bar cabinet designed by Laura Gonzalez

The gallery’s roster of talent has expanded at pace over the past six years, with work by more than 30 makers on display including a seven-foot chandelier by Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth, a bar cabinet by ELLE DECOR A-List designer Laura Gonzalez, and works in marble by Francesco Balzano, an Italian architect and designer who will be the subject of the gallery’s first solo show, in May. Plus, there’s a London showroom in the cards

“It’s a partnership, and that’s what we love,” says Onuska. “The line of communication is always open between us and our artists”